Newly Widowed - The first four weeks

Week One

Pure agony, terror, shock, disbelief, panic. I felt it all and it changed from one second to the next.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 30, 2009, I heard my husband calling me from the hallway, where he lay, struggling to breathe. 911 guided me through CPR as he lay unconscious and I begged him not to leave me. The ambulance rushed him away and I rode in the back of the Sheriff's car after telling my children I was going to the hospital with Daddy. I was called from the waiting room to a tiny room and a doctor began with "I'm so sorry" (the first of hundreds I would hear), "your husband didn't make it". Covering my face, crying "Oh my God". I asked to see him and was escorted to the end of a long hallway and a closed blue curtain. He looked to be sleeping, yet they said my strong, handsome soul mate at the age of forty-seven, was gone.

I laid across his chest, breathing in his smell I'd loved so much and the first wave of terror hit me that I would never smell his chest again. I touched the stubble on his cheeks, smoothed back his hair, held his large caloused hand, that would never again hold mine. I cried in agony, I reminded him of all the things we had yet to do. I thought of nothing else but of wanting him back. People came in, said their goodbyes, while I held onto him and sobbed. Our oldest came and to hear him say goodbye to his father, brought me an entirely new pain. The father of our children was gone too. Our son removed his father's wedding ring, a dear friend took a chain from around her neck, his wedding ring now hangs from that chain around my neck.

Friends and family came, and after being told numerous times that they had to take him, I reluctantly let go. Leaving the hospital with loved ones around me, I'd never felt so alone in my forty-three years. My first task as a new widow, was to go home and tell the other four children, that Daddy was gone.

The days that followed were a blur and I was led around by the hand and advised what needed to be done. I followed their lists, welcomed visitors, and thanked them for their offer of condolences and help. I waited for night to come when I could sleep, with the help of medication, and dreaded the mornings when I woke up and the grief started fresh. Early mornings were our time, I'd hear the shower turn on and get his coffee. We'd share a cup and good uninterrupted conversation until he left for work. It took a month before I stopped expecting to hear the shower. Drinking my coffee alone, I spoke to him, told him all the things he already knew, how much I loved him and would miss him every second of everyday. I asked him to send me his strength to go on each day. When the sun finally came up I turned into mommy mode and auto piloted through the day, yearning for night again.

Week Two and Three

His death was sudden and unexpected, so we were not prepared. He was self-employed, I, a stay at home mom. No life insurance. With the realization of what the financial situation truly was, I found some strength from somewhere that I was alone and that our five children now solely depended on me and that I needed to act quickly. The first priority was Social Security and my sister-in-law held my hand through it. The funeral arrangements were made complicated by the coroner's investigation and initially listing cause of death as pending. We ordered an independent autopsy as well, because I needed answers. I began to wonder as week two turned into three just how long the mortuary was willing to keep him. I secretly hoped, forever.

His service was held on the 16th of January, and I made a very tough decision, for a few reasons, but mostly because I couldn't bare to see a casket knowing he was in there. Luckily, the Catholic Church accepted that. Some decisions can be left up to others, but there are some that only the survivor can make. I didn't care that others would question it, I figured they would be more horrified to see me trying to crawl in there with him. We held a beautiful celebration of his life afterwards with a video montage of his life. We shared stories and happy memories and that's the way he would have wanted it to be. He was buried in our small town on the 18th, with close friends and family gathered under umbrellas shielding them from a downpour. I had the children each write him a letter, made copies to keep for them, placed pictures and a love letter from me in a Ziploc bag along with his favorite hat placed in the coffin, I kissed the coffin and told him I loved him and closed my eyes as he was lowered into the grave.

Week Four

Well week four came with fire and brimstone, as they say. All of the emotions they say come with the grief process seem to hit me at once. Anger, guilt, fear, helplessness, anguish, confusion, anxiety, loneliness, sorrow, rage and the big one DENIAL. Way back somewhere within me I know the truth, but the rest of me pushes it away and I refuse to think of it, of him, of what was and what was still yet to be.

From one new widow to another...

Let people help you. It was difficult to watch people fold my laundry, so I went into the bathroom for a good cry, but was later relieved that folding laundry was no longer on my list of things to do. Let people bring you dinner! Designate one person to set up a schedule for you. People were told that if I didn't answer the door to place dinner in our freezer in the garage. Let people pick your kids up from school and don't feel guilty. If they offer it's because they want to help. Let them.

Get a box to house folders and important papers. I carry around this black file box, with all important papers, birth, death, marriage certificates. Social Security cards and Death Benefit information. Wills, pension, life insurance, titles for property and vehicles. Anything you may need immediate access to. Order 10, yes 10 original death certificates.

Use a notepad or notebook. Write lists of things you need to do. Each day, note the date and what you have done or accomplished, with details, names and numbers. Keep it in your box. You will forget!

Talk to other widows. There are numerous groups on the web for new widows. People want to tell you about how they felt when their mother, father, or grandfather passed away. It is NOT the same. Only other widows know exactly what your are going through.

Don't hide your grief from your children. I did that. I thought if they see Mom fall apart then where will that leave them. When actually, it lets them know that it's okay to grieve, to cry, to be angry or sad. Also I contacted the school psychologists for each of the kids schools and they offered them immediate grief counseling, and contacted me by phone to let me know how it went.

Do Not let anyone push you into something you don't feel comfortable with. Some things are very personal and only you can decide when the time is right. I had family cleaning up the house and collecting my husband's laundry. I asked them please don't touch his clothes. They are still in a bag in his closet. Dirty clothes, but they still smell like him.

Most importantly take your time and take care of yourself! It took me a couple of weeks to realize that everything couldn't be done in a day. I did what I could until I dropped from exhaustion and left the rest for the next day. I don't think I ate for a week. I know I've lost weight my clothes are hanging off of me. It's on my daily list so I don't forget: EAT!

One foot in front of the other, one second, one hour, one day at a time.

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Comments 36 comments

Julie Walker 6 years ago

Wow How some take life for granted!!! good read!!!


Karin Barbara 6 years ago

Im really touch. That was real nice. You are a strong women. I know how you feel


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

Julie, thank you for your comment... yes, as the saying goes never take life for granted and well, we take that for granted too.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

Karin, my heart goes out to you as well. Us "widows" as we are now called pull that strength up from somewhere, we do it for our own survival and for our children, don't we?


mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 6 years ago

Wow, you just reminded me to spend cuddle time with my husband tonight. I can't imagine what you're going through but my thoughts and prayers are with you!


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

mulberry1 - Please do... you know the saying enjoy every moment as if it were your last. Believe in it and do it. Value each and every moment. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.


frogtexx profile image

frogtexx 6 years ago from Alton, Illinois

WOW!! Thank you so much for sending this to me moo. I love ya honey this is a really fine article & it touched my heart in so many ways. My thoughts & prayers are with you & the kids everyday & if you need anything even just a chat call or e-mail me ANYTIME! Thanks for hookin me up with this site I really have enjoyed a lot of the articles in here. Take care sweetie!


aunt val 6 years ago

You've hit the nail on every head, now drive it through! Your love for Kirk will only make you stronger for yourself & your children.Always find time for yourself, as it can be a rejuvinator for the mind & soul.I know you know I'm always there for you!!! LOVE YOU & The Kids!!


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

thanks tex, glad you liked the article and theothers here too. I love you too!


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

Aunt Val I just plain old love you!!!


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 6 years ago from Southern California

My heart aches for you, I know you need strength now, but I am just a bowl of jello now, after reading this. I need to recover, and I don't even know you. This is so heart wrenching. I'm not going to say that I know how you feel, because I don't, but I do know after losing my brother and sister both in their 50's how painful it was. With time I am dealing with it better, so I can say you will feel better with time, but don't rush it. You seem like such a sweet lady, and I'm sure you have loads of support, so I'll just throw my hat in the ring, may comfort come from all sources. Please feel free to email me anytime.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

Thank you freta for your support and comforting words. Thank you for your offer of friendship. Your hubs, I enjoy so much, they are full of grace and wisdom. I am blessed to have wonderful family and friends around me and of course the 5 joys of my life. To see their sweet smiles everyday keeps me going.


manic monday profile image

manic monday 6 years ago from USA

This is very informative. You are very strong to be able to share such a tragic moment. I am sorry for your loss.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

Thank you manic, I seem to grow stronger everyday. Thank you for your comment and kind words.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

Thanks for share your experience with us. You have bad experience, I hope it will better soon.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

prasetio thank you for your comment. Yes, a truly horrible experience and there are many out there like me. Thank you so much for your well wishes.


janices7 profile image

janices7 6 years ago

I am so sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing such a personal and tragic moment with us and please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Reminds me that my husband and I need to get our stuff in order. He is self-employed as well so we've been talking about increasing his life insurance policy for a few years, we need to get off our butts and do it.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

Thank you janices7 for your thoughts and prayers. Part of the reason I wrote this, not only therapeutic but if I can help someone else from my experience then all the better. It only takes a moment, a moment worth the rest of your life.


MFB III profile image

MFB III 6 years ago from United States

I have watched many of my loved ones die, and I feel your pain, that aching emptiness that nothing can fill, the memories that all come in a rush, like a strobe light, flashes of beauty that move one to tears. Be assured that he waits on the other side, and he knows how much you truly

loved him, all of the minor squabbles and the bad that life brings us all no longer matters or means much over there. It is only happiness and joy at what life gave him that makes his heaven now.... and you are a large part of that and always will be. We are alloted only so much time, some of us get less, but what you shared together made every minute of it precious and cherished, and a lot of people die without ever knowing that. I am sorry for your loss, but happy for all that you gained together in the years that you had.

peace to you and yours...MFB III


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

MFB III, Thank you for your beautiful words. Obviously you do understand what it is to have lost and I'm sorry for that. He was loved a great deal by many and yes I am happy and feel so blessed to have had such a love in my life that many never experience. I heard Eleanor Rigby the other day and was thinking the same thing "All the lonely people." I'm at a point right now where it is difficult to cherish memories without pain, but I know I'll be able to get back to that one day. Thank you again for wonderful comment.


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

Missi Darnell

I'm lost for words really,this hub puts many things into perspective.Such a tragic loss-God Bless you and your children.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

itakins thank you for your comment and blessings for my children and I. Yes, enjoy each moment, love those who love you, for you never know when the end will come.


JannyC profile image

JannyC 6 years ago

This was beautiful and translate to anyone who has lost a loved one. I learned a lot of what you said when I suddenly lost my mom. Hug for you and yours.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

JannyC thank you for your comment and hugs. I am sorry for your loss as well. It is a difficult thing to go through no matter the relation.


brotheryochanan profile image

brotheryochanan 6 years ago from BC, canada

i have tears on my face and that just doesn't just happen. I don't even cry to the god whom i serve. I hope you are alright now, Grief passes after time i know, i've had some. but i've never married and now i don't think i want to LOL (jokin hehe). I assume this was more than 3 months ago but i didn't catch how long ago this was.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

brotheryochanan thank you for your caring words. It moves me to know that I move others. My husband passed in Dec so it's been almost four months now. We were one of the lucky ones to have found our soul mates in life, so I wouldn't say never marry kidding or not. I was so blessed to have had this man a part of my life for so long.


brotheryochanan profile image

brotheryochanan 6 years ago from BC, canada

I envy your luckiness. I have never found that one. Ever go to canada? ;) Like they say: better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I wish you gods good graces and will occasionally pray for your peace in this situation.


Dena 6 years ago

Thank you for your honesty. I can relate to every word you said. I lost my husband this month- he was 35. We have two children 13 and 11 (girl and a boy). It was so sudden and out of the blue. I feel like everything I ever knew is gone. He was my soul mate... my only since I was 17 years old. It is a small comfort to know there are others who have felt this level of pain and continue to press on still. For me, it's all about our children. They is my reason for fighting thru this storm. Thank you for your courage to share.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

brotheryochanan, never been to Canada. hee hee. I agree and am so grateful that I was one of the lucky ones. Thank you for your prayers.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

Dena, you are the reason I wrote this. For those out there like me who can relate to my words and my circumstances. Saying sorry for your loss seems trivial and I know how much you've heard it, however, I truly am sorry for your loss and I know just how devastating that loss is. There are many of 'us' out there. Reach out as you have here, share your own story, your own pain, it does help to express it to others who understand. Even the crazy thoughts, we get those especially. "I feel like everything I knew was gone" Exactly! I find myself, even after 4 months wondering who I am now. An enormous part of who I was four months ago is no more. My email is on my profile, you are welcome to email me anytime. I wish you well and your children too. I know right now your world is very dark and the devastation is almost unbearable. I'm not going to say time heals, I'm going to tell you that little bits of sunshine are on the horizon. If there is anything I can do, please feel free to ask me. Hugs.


ThoughtfulSpot profile image

ThoughtfulSpot 6 years ago from PA

You are very brave to share, and very kind to direct your sharing so that it may help others. I don't have the words right now to express how I am feeling, so I'll go with convention, but it is heartfelt - I am so sorry for your loss.

This piece is beautifully written and shows such strength and courage and love.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

Thank you ThoughfulSpot for your kind words and compliment on my writing.


Don Simkovich profile image

Don Simkovich 6 years ago from Pasadena, CA

I'm really glad you wrote this Hub. Hubpages is an amazing collection of deeply personal issues and stories that teach us while offering guidance on everything from business to search engine optimization. This is a really recent event for you. Wow! Great to have you share it openly instead of withdraw. I think we forget about widows in our society, unfortunately. I do know of a ministry out of Texas - at least from the past - that helped churches form ministries to widows. This Hub struck me because of family grief I've been experiencing - not from death but from guardianship issues. Again, thanks for writing this and blessings on you Missi.


blake4d profile image

blake4d 6 years ago from Now Rising Out of Phoenix Arizona Earthlings

Ditto to everything I just commented on the month three hub MD. Big hugs again, xoxoxo. Blake4d


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

Don thank you. It is easier for me to express through writing and maybe if I can reach out to another widow and they feel they are not alone in their new journey makes me feel that much better of a person. I hope things work out for you and your family. Thank you for the your kind words and blessings.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

Ditto for me too Blake4d!

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